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Environmentalism and ethical theory

A part of the world's wrongs derives from the immorality of people. In order to make this world better, people should be more ethical and environmentally conscious. However, the ethical and environmentally conscious people may encounter inconveniences as a result of their lifestyle, which does not make it attractive. In order to make the ethical lifestyle more attractive, many solutions have been found during the history of mankind: such are, for example, respect in society, religions, or laws which punish severely. In order to be effective, the religions' moral-forming strength may need faith, or at least deeming it probable or possible that statements of the religion are true. That is why it would probably do good to everyone if those people who do not like religions got ethical tuition.

There is a competition for survival, power and reproduction between creatures, which we could call the mover of evolution. We might think that the race of evolution is such a race which has no rules, so the theory of evolution has a detrimental effect on the morals of the people. However, even evolution is against some harmful deeds to the self: for example, smoking, drugs, or suicide. Here we should not consider smoking as if it were a crime that is not forgiven automatically, but as something which makes a person worsen more and more, and as a consequence, fall behind his/her rivals more and more.

From the beginning of our written history, humankind uses domesticated plants and tamed animals for its own goals. Humankind cares for the defense and reproduction of these plants and animals, so these creatures need not take part in the race of evolution, except for the extent that they need to win the grace of people. Thus domesticated plants and tamed animals drive their energy into the usefulness for people instead of struggle against their rivals, and this way they can survive. Around many domesticated plants, humans weed out, because the domesticated plants are that yield harvest. Many tamed animals are protected from predators by humans because tamed animals give meat, milk or eggs. Humans probably tame not only animals, but also each other, so the evolutionary race between humans is not only about struggle against one another, but about usefulness to one another as well. The community may help the individual who is more useful to it.

Humankind lives in communities, so the evolution of humans is not only about a competition between individuals, but about a competition between communities, too. Inside a community, people are similar to each other, and thus helping a member of the community to reproduction is nearly as important for a human as his/her own reproduction. Evolution is about passing on the genes, the parts of the program which is responsible for the build-up of our bodies. Inside a community, the same genes are found more frequently than outside of it. People may do more for the passing on their own genes by doing something great for their community, than by begetting more children. Thus it becomes understandable that it is evolutionarily sound if a person sacrifices his/her life or his/her reproduction for the community. In the society of ants it works in such an advanced way that there are ants who never reproduce, but help the community in survival. If the community of ants came into being by evolution, then possibly there was a time when every ant could reproduce and during community life the present state evolved gradually, probably because helping the teammates was evolutionary helpful for ants even then.

Apart from the interest of a group of living creatures, there is an interest that life should survive on Earth. This started to be endangered as a result of the presence of humankind's weapons of mass destruction and humankind's extravagant lifestyle, but it has been in danger for a long time as well because of the risk of the hit of a greater asteroid coming from space. The inclination to save the entire living world presupposes intelligence, and its motivation is similar to the motivation for making a human community survive, and therefore humans are almost fit for solving their environmental problems. The desire for survival is an instinct, and intelligence deems it probable that the survival of our genes as a goal depends on the survival of some other parts of Earthly life. That is why it seems to be logical that humans make such decisions that increase the probability of life on Earth persisting longer. We can call it ethical environmentalism if someone chooses to protect the environment by decisions in his/her own power. We can call it political environmentalism if a group makes an environmental agreement which influences the rules of evolutionary struggle. We can call it educational environmentalism if someone offers knowledge that urges to protect the environment.

Further readings

(these were not necessarily read by the author):

Charles Darwin - On the Origin of Species (1859, 1872)

Charles Darwin - The Descent of Man (1871)

Richard Dawkins - The Extended Phenotype (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1982)

David Attenborough - The First Eden. The Mediterranean World and Man (William Collins Sons and Co. Ltd. & BBC Books, London, 1987)

Ethical environmentalism, good advice

It is not fair to work hard on environmentalism as a poor while some unethical rich people enjoy life instead of the poor environmentalists. That's why the poor should connect environmentalism with financial gain, but if they cannot do it easily, maybe it's a better idea for them to take care of environmentalism in a passive way only, without spending any time on it. This could be called white environmentalism. However, white environmentalism can also mean the observance of very strict ethical principles about things we shall not do, for example, not buying anything too harmful to the environment, or not voting for anyone or any party too harmful, not harming the environment in vain, not overpopulating, not spreading harmful technology, and much more specific ideas. These principles can be related to deep philosophy about life.

If we have suffered much in life, we can think about whether God is good? Maybe God is good, but we lived in a wrong way. Perhaps we could even live more wisely, which provides more joy. If we walked on the path towards joy all the time, maybe we could reach it. It seems that there are two highly secure sources of joy, so that we can be happy in at least part of our times by concentrating on them:
  • Think about what we like to think about, and do what we like to do
  • Gather power and control our lives
The sources of our joy and thinking on environmental problems do not always correspond. It is a question whether we can practice our actual sources of joy and environmentalism and gather power at the same time? White environmentalism, as described here, can be an answer to this question. And if we demand our ethical values to be great, then we should practice white environmentalism in a radical way, and this hopefully opens up the way towards the improvement of our economic situation, so that we can take care of environmentalism in an active way later. This means that we should give up many kinds of luxury in order to make it more probable that other kinds of joy happen in our lives.

Faith: the third way:

For some people, there may be a third way that makes them happy, faith in God and/or in a spiritual reward for working on a noble cause. However, the joy coming from this is not direct, but depends on the strength of the faith and/or beliefs, which may weaken in case of long suffering. Here are some parts of faith which might strenghten environmentalism:
  • God, the Creator and Ruler of the Universe probably exists.
  • God probably loves life.
  • God probably wants us to love life.

List of more specific ideas in passive environmentalism:

  • Those who are poorer than the average should not beget more than two children.
  • Those who want to reduce carbon emissions should probably not eat meat on Mondays or Saturdays, for example (or eat less meat).
  • Environmentalists should not waste electricity and gas, so keep away from TV and gas stoves, for example (instead, cook or fry by mirrored solar power).
  • Environmentalists should not publish technological research too harmful to the environment.
  • Environmentalists should not vote for parties too harmful to the environment.
  • Environmentalists should not buy products or services too harmful to the environment.
  • Environmentalists should not borrow money if it is not really needed.
  • Deodorant sprays and similar materials are only worth using when needed, it is not worth smoking, etc.
  • There is an idea to put our waste in the packaging material of what we have bought.
  • ...

Further readings

(these were not necessarily read by the author):

Unknown - The Ten Commandments (from the Torah or the Bible, Old Testament)